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How Tesco will look this winter

Today's focus on Supermarket Winter Lists goes to Tesco with eight firm recommendations - but this post also offers a couple of Best of the Rest options.

As regular MidWeekers will know, I am slowly working my way through the Winter Lists of several major retailers; today the spotlight falls on Tesco.

Currently, I sense their overall list seems a little stronger on Europe than on the New World but there are still good examples from both hemispheres.

Here, though, are eight that caught my eye that I think you will enjoy.

Also today are some of the usual features that, this time, include Best of the Rest and Sunset Corner – alerting you to three promotions that will expire shortly.

Remember that many featured wines now have a hyperlink to the retailer’s website for all the reasons I explained down the page in last week’s post.

As ever, use any available pictures to help you find the wine on a crowded shelf – which is not always as easy as it seems.

Nice, kindly priced example

The whole Danube area to the west of Vienna (which includes prestigious names like Wachau and Kamptal) can produce excellent versions of the fresh yet often peppery gruner veltliner – and here is a kindly priced and nicely made example from thereabouts.  

True to form 2018 Peter Mertes Ara Gruner Veltliner £8 and 12% abv) does exude a gentle spiciness that sits well with the wine’s lemon and apple fruit, prickle of acidic freshness and the herbal substance that provides weight and gravitas.

Meanwhile nearer home

Made for Tesco by the talented guys at Hush Heath in Kent, this blend combines pinot blanc (33%) and bacchus (33%) with a couple of classic grape varieties and is a great advertisement for just how good English wine is becoming – although the excellent 2018 summer will also have played a part. 

Substantial and subtly savoury 2018 Finest English White (£12 at Tesco and 11.5%) has attractive apple and lime fruit enlivened by nippy acidity which is neatly complemented by textured depth.

And now to Chablis

Second only in prestige to the seven closely grouped Grand Cru areas, Premier Cru Chablis covers about 15% of Chablis vineyards so can vary in style and, sometimes, quality – but not this time.

Incidentally, 20% of this particular example has been barrel aged – still a controversial subject in Chablis but not that uncommon for premier cru and grand cru wines.

Nutty centred mellowness gives 2017 Finest Chablis Premier Cru (£15 and 13%) that extra tier of class we regularly find in premier cru versions which, here, gracefully embellishes the wine’s apple and lime fruit and frisky grapefruit centred acidity.

When oak does work with sauvignon

If the £13 price tag on New Zealand’s beautiful North Row Sauvignon discourages you, try this less expensive version.

Since this is barrel fermented, it challenges suggestions that oak does not work well with sauvignon and, on a (possibly) unrelated point, the wine also gets extra richness from its extended lees time.

Those oak influences are undoubtedly the origin of the soft smoothness you immediately discover in 2018 Finest Barrel Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (£9 and 13%) but which is joined a little later by gentle apple and citrus fruit, sharp acidity, savoury elements and a touch of peach that all lead into a very long finish.

A late starter that caught up fast

Although wine production in New Zealand’s Central Otago took its time getting under way, the world quickly recognised the fantastic pinot noir that was possible there.

It is a land of short, sunny summers but cool nights which, together, encourage vines to produce bright fruit with plenty of acidic freshness. 

All the classic pinot elements are gathered together (and integrated well) in 2018 Finest Central Otago Pinot Noir (£13 and 13.5%) including cherry and plum fruit, earthy beetroot depth, hints of nuts and cloves, good acidity but soft tannin.    

A reminder of where malbec calls home

This 100% malbec from South West France is made for Tesco by the respected Rigal operation – who have been handling this variety in the area since 1755 – and who also work with other grapes that do well thereabouts like colombard and gros manseng, although  not (yet) for Tesco.

2018 Finest Cahors Malbec (£7.50 and 12.5%) is soft and mellow with well-defined black cherry and plum fruit, acidic freshness, cinnamon centred texture but only limited tannin.

Unravelling a confusion of names

Remember this wine is from the town of Montepulcino and has nothing to do with the similarly (and confusingly) named grape variety.

Sangiovese grapes are king there and – although up to 30% of other grapes are permitted – this one is made exclusively from sangiovese and also displays the extra density for which Nobile di Montepulciano wines are noted.

Lovers of chianti will relish the graphite intensity of 2015 Brumale Nobile di Montepulciano (£12 and 14%) with its black cherry and elderberry fruit which is nicely embellished with firm acidity, gentle tannin and a suspicion of menthol.

A highly regarded producer

Stellenbosch – east of Capetown – is probably South Africa’s most important wine area and shiraz is gaining an increasing foothold there alongside the more obvious red varieties like pinotage and cabernet sauvignon; the producer (Bellingham) is one for whom I have an especially high regard.

Firm acidity and concentrated but savoury edged fruit are married together well in 2015 Bellingham Homestead Shiraz (£11 and 14%) where suggestions of allspice and skilfully judged tannin also feature and add complexity to those central damson flavours.


Southern hemisphere PG can shine too

This floral South African white has long been a favourite on the Waitrose list offering terrific value especially when on offer (as it regularly seems to be) and maintains its high standard even unto the latest vintage.

Unusually for inexpensive versions, 2018 Secret Cellar Pinot Grigio £4.99 – instead of £7.79 until 5 November – at Waitrose and 12.5%) includes a sizeable quota of acidity (lime based in this case) that nicely embellishes its orange and peach fruit and creamy, honeysuckle influenced texture.

A lesser known star from Puglia

Although reds from Puglia usually mean primitivo or negroamaro grapes, the less well known nero di troia is well worth seeking out with its depth and dark colouration – even though the low yields it delivers make it less popular with producers (and their accountants).

For a tasty and great value example, head for the medium bodied 2018 Il Sarmento Nero di Troia (£5.75 at the Co-op and 13%) with its firm acidity, cherry and red plum fruit, hints of cinnamon but limited tannin.  


A trio of promotions is due to end next week so, if your retailer of choice is on this list, the next few days could be the last chance to pick up wines you fancy at reduced prices.

  • M&S promotion ends on 4 November.
  • Waitrose and Co-op promotions end on 5 November.

NEXT WEEK : We take a look at Sainsbury’s Winter wines but computer maintenance means the post may go out on Thursday rather than the usual Wednesday.

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